Canada is working diligently to set a commendable example of appreciation for women. These women have been involved in STEM jobs, contributing immensely to the well-being of people during the COVID-19 crisis. On February 11, 2021, the country felicitated the work of women scientists in social sciences and health disciplines. These are both STEM disciplines. The occasion was the International Women & Girls in Science Day.
They have researched, worked, and repurposed their resources and skills for a purpose. They have provided much-needed assistance to Canada in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women’s representation in Canada’s science and health sectors has set an example for the world. Their work in Canada, in various fields, are greatly contributory to the cause of finding the best solutions to crises like COVID-19.
Women in Engineering
Women have been actively involved in designing and making protective equipment for personal use. These were meant for frontline workers. They have also been keeping essential municipal services running. They have supported the work of maintaining the connectivity through telecommunication networks. They have helped immensely by adapting university programs to keep them on track.
Women in technology
As digital health experts, women have developed technology to track the spread of the virus. They have also come up with start-ups that work with innovative technology. Such technology provides valuable assistance during COVID-19 and beyond.
Women as scientists
Women who are epidemiologists and mathematicians have worked on the complex task of disease modeling. Scientists among women have worked in various capacities. They include:
- Specialists in infectious diseases
- Cellular & molecular biologists
- Experts in genomic science
Women as social science workers
Women have helped policy-makers understand the impact and results of interventions in public health. They have given insight into the best ways to run vaccination programs and communicate effectively about them. They have also worked to ensure that the voices of those affected most by the pandemic get representation. This was essential while developing policies and programs for COVID-19 eradication.
Nevertheless, the fact is that women and girls in many other STEM occupations face underrepresentation. More women who choose a STEM career are more likely to pursue a degree in sciences like Biology. They rarely choose computer science, engineering, and mathematics.
There is a series of barriers that create what’s called a “glass obstacle course”. They throw in many barriers – formal and informal – at every stage from a study in Canada to work in the field. Gender discrimination is the most glaring obstacle. Other challenges are racism, minority under-representation, handling familial responsibilities, and gender bias.
Canada is taking definite steps in the direction of eradicating the plight of women in their careers. The solutions thought out for implementation include:
- Open conversations inside institutions and communities
- Acknowledging that gender inequities have increased in STEM sectors during the COVID-19 crisis
- Urging institutions to address the factors that discourage women from pursuing STEM careers
- Working on strategies to improve recruitment, training, and retention of women
- Developing and implementing policies that promote gender equality and create more inclusive workspaces
- Recognize and celebrate the achievements of girls and women
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STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics